Google occasionally refreshes its algorithms to improve the way it indexes web pages while making sure that websites follow acceptable and fair methods of boosting their search engine rankings. In 2015, Google introduced Rank Brain, a ‘machine learning’ AI system and new algorithm that further enhanced its search technology. Machine learning occurs when a computer teaches itself how to perform certain tasks instead of relying on humans or detailed programming.
RankBrain is just one of the technologies behind Hummingbird. Apart from RankBrain, Hummingbird also incorporates (1) Penguin, Payday, and Panda to fight spam, (2) Top Heavy to reduce ad-heavy pages, (3) Pigeon for improving local search results, (4) Pirate for fighting copyright infringement, and (5) Mobile Friendly to provide mobile-friendly web pages.
RankBrain is essentially a hard working computer program that goes through billions of pages—which it already knows—then finds the ones that are seemingly most relevant for certain search queries. Think of it as Google’s AI machine. It processes about 15 percent of daily searches, but it is not a major algorithm update (unlike Penguin and Panda). However, Google has declared that RankBrain is an important ‘signal’ that helps match results to search queries, so if you are serious about SEO, then you should be looking at these signals.
‘Signals’ are the factors that Google uses to determine how web pages are ranked. They can be the words on a certain web page. Emboldened words may be considered as signals, too, and Google can takes note of them. Calculations that are used with PageRank provide pages a score, which is used as a signal. A page that is noted as ‘mobile-friendly’ gives a signal, too.
All these signals are processed by different parts in the Hummingbird algorithm to determine which pages Google will show in response to different search queries. Google has revealed having over 200 major ranking signals, each of which may have up to 10,000 sub-signals or variations. With RankBrain present, you may need to concentrate on mobile SEO, improving your local optimization strategies, producing better content, and curating the content that you share on your social media pages.